Tax Scams to Watch for in 2022
It’s tax filing season, and that means it’s tax scam season. The scammers come out each year with their bag of tricks: some old, some new. Here are the tax scams to watch out for in 2022:
SMS-based tax scams
In a recent security bulletin, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) warned that they’ve noticed “an uptick in text messages that impersonated the IRS” over the past year. This tracks with what security researchers have seen with SMS and QR-based phishing generally: We live in a mobile world, and the scams have adapted.
According to the IRS, the SMS-based tax scams often make reference to “COVID-19 and/or ‘stimulus payments’” and contain fraudulent links. Fortunately, these scams are very easy to spot for one simple reason: The IRS doesn’t communicate with taxpayers by text message! If you get a text from someone claiming to be from the IRS, it’s a scam. Don’t answer the message or click on any links.
If you do receive one of these SMS-based tax scams, the IRS asks that you report it. This will help them crack down on scammers and keep other people safe. To do this, screenshot the text message and send it in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the date, time, and time zone that you received the message. Also note the phone number the message was sent to.
The IRS says that states are reporting “a surge in fraudulent unemployment claims filed by organized crime rings using stolen identities”. The bad guys are using the stolen identities to file for and collect fraudulent unemployment benefits.
In this 2022 tax scam, the bad guys aren’t attempting to scam you directly. Instead, they’re scamming the government! But taxpayers will get caught up in the scam all the same, because the fraud is being perpetrated in their names, and also because unemployment benefits are considered taxable income.
The IRS says that there are a few signs that you’ve been the victim of unemployment identity theft:
- You get a notification from your employer saying they’ve had a request for information about an unemployment claim
- The government sends you a letter about an unexpected unemployment claim, payment, or related debit card.
- You receive IRS Form 1099-G (the form used to report unemployment benefits for tax purposes), either when you weren’t expecting it, or in the wrong amount, or from a state you don’t live in.
If you think you’ve been the victim of this type of tax scam, you need to take action. That means reporting the fraud to a state agency and obtaining a corrected Form 1099-G. For more information about how to do this, see the U.S. Department of Labor’s website.
The IRS issued a special warning this year about SMS-based scams and the surge in unemployment fraud. But these aren’t the only things you should be watching for. Year after year, scammers roll out some tried-and-true tax scams as well:
- IRS phone scam calls
- Fraudulent tax prep services
- TAS scams
- Debt relief scams
- Phishing emails
For a rundown of these scams, and advice on how to handle them, check out: Checklist 222: Avoiding Tax Scams and 4 Tax Scams to Avoid in 2020. If you’re filing online, have a look at 7 Cybersecurity Tips for E-Filing Taxes as well.